Location: Horticultural Crops Research UnitTitle: On-farm irrigatrion system design and operation
Submitted to: Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/2/2015
Publication Date: 4/1/2015
Citation: Bryla, D.R. 2015. On-farm irrigatrion system design and operation. Proceedings from OSU Blueberry School; 2015 March 16-17; Corvallis, OR. p. 53-56.
Technical Abstract: Most commercial blueberry fields are irrigated by overhead sprinklers or drip. Water is typically applied one to two times per week as needed with sprinklers, and every one to three days with drip. Sprinkler systems are relatively simple to install and maintain, and when designed properly, obtain reasonable uniformity of water application. Some major advantages of sprinklers include the ability to: run them for frost protection in the spring and for fruit cooling in the summer; establish and maintain a cover crop between the rows; and apply the water with little to no filtration. Drip systems, on the other hand, are somewhat more expensive to install and often more difficult to maintain than sprinklers, but they offer: superior water control and distribution uniformity; lower energy costs; improved application of fertilizer and other chemicals; improved cultural practices, including the ability to irrigate during harvest; fewer weed and disease problems; and reduced food safety concerns, especially when using surface water to irrigate. A few growers are also using microsprinklers for blueberry, primarily for cooling and chemigation, in conjunction with a drip system. Drip irrigation often produces larger plants than sprinklers during establishment and results in similar or higher yields than sprinklers when fertilizers are injected through the drip system. These benefits are a result of higher soil water content and greater soil nutrient availability in the vicinity of the roots with drip. However, drip can also increase the potential for phytophthora root rot, especially in highly susceptible cultivars such as Duke and Draper. Root rot does not usually result in plant death in blueberry, but it will reduce growth and fruit production. Options for preventing root rot include raised planting beds, suspended drip lines, wider drip line placement, the use of mefenoxam, fosetyl-Al, and phosphite/phosphonate/ phosphonic acid fungicides (conventional only), and high pre-plant applications of gypsum (an option for organic systems).